Think you had a bad PPF installation?
Paint Protection Films has been gaining momentum in the car detailing world in the last decade. After all, what’s not to like about a virtually undetectable layer of protection that will shield your car paint from rock chips, road debris, acid rain, or worse? Many car owners flock to detailers for a paint protection film installation, but not all of them leave the shop happy. The problem is, performing a PPF installation takes plenty of practice, and not every shop who offers the service are qualified. If you’ve just got your car wrapped in a clear bra and isn’t completely satisfied, here are some common problems that you might be running into and how to avoid them.
Nowadays, most shops opt for pre-cut patterns for their paint protection films and for
good reason. Not only does it save time on installation, it also eliminates the risk of damaging the car paint with a razor. What might not be so great about these pre-cut films, however, is that the source data is not always accurate or up to date. Sometimes, the films might be cut too small in comparison to the corresponding car parts, and what that results in is a misalignment between the film and the car paint. While a centimeter or two might not seem like a big problem at first, it means the difference between an invisible barrier and unattractive lines on your paint job. If your installation looks anything like this, your paint protection film is definitely misaligned.
Stretch Marks or Orange Peels
No longer just a problem for new moms, stretch marks could also be an issue on the clear film you wrap your baby in.
During the installation process, paint protection films are often stretched out in order to cover curved and uneven areas. Even though the stretching itself is routine for any installation, stretch marks are not always a default by-product. To avoid any unnecessary marks, it’s important to choose a more pliable film that would conform to the dimensions of car surfaces more easily.
Another common problem with the appearance of paint protection films is called “Orange Peel”. Although paint protection films are meant to be undetectable, not all films are built the same. Some of these films tend to have a rough texture on the surface that resembles the outer surface of oranges, which can be pretty distracting. Luckily, this isn’t a problem present in every brand of paint protection films. To make sure your paint protection film installation will come out looking the best that it can, choose a provider that carries a quality brand and you’ve got one less problem.
Dirt, dust, and air bubbles
Apart from stretch marks, it is also possible to have dirt, dust, or air bubbles trapped under the paint protection film. The film is consisted of a TPU material with a very strong adhesive layer at the bottom. It is all too easy for any number of pollutants or particles to get stuck on the adhesive during installation, especially if the car paint surface hasn’t been cleaned properly beforehand. Some installers are known to simply cut away problem areas as demonstrated here, which leaves part of the paint surface exposed and unprotected, and leaves an unflattering gap on the edge.
While dirt and dust might only be unsightly under the film, air bubbles, especially on the edges, can lead to premature peeling and potential damages to the car paint. That is why the devil is in the details when it comes to pre-cleaning and the actual installation process to ensure a flawless result.
For those shops that choose to install paint protection films without pre-cut patterns, they would have to hand-cut their films once it’s laid on the vehicle surface. As you can imagine, it can be quite dangerous to go near your original car paint with a sharp edge. If a simple key can do serious damage to your paint job, just imagine what a knife can do. If your installer is not careful or experienced, they might deal more damage to your paint job than you started out with.
The good news is, razor marks are completely avoidable. Before hitting a body shop for your installation, take the extra time and do your research. Finding a reputable installer is half the battle when it comes to paint protection films, and you should only entrust your vehicle to someone you can rely on.
How to prevent a bad paint protection film installation?
The first step to ensuring you will have a proper paint protection film installation is vetting your installers. Even though plenty of shops on the street offer installations of paint protection film, it’s always worth combing through online reviews or asking your friends and family for recommendations. You should also make sure that they have experience with the paint protection film that you set your eyes on. Each film performs differently and have unique adhesives. If your installer is working with a particular film for the first time, they might struggle a little. After all, paint protection films cost more than a handful of change and takes quite a while, and it is not exactly something that you’d want to redo.
That said, if you did end up with an unsatisfactory installation, there’s always a way to fix it. Paint protection films, by design, are easy to remove without leaving any traces on the original car paint. It is all too simple to rip off the old layer of film and install a new piece in its place. However, if your original body shop refuses to correct your paint protection film, or if you’d rather go with a more reliable place that wouldn’t screw up again, then you have the luxury of picking a new place that promises to take good care of your vehicle.
Before committing to a service or a shop, make sure they answer any questions you might have about the films and techniques they use. Want to avoid misaligned edges? Ask your installer to use a flexible film and wrap around the edges. Want to eliminate stretch marks and relief cuts? Make sure your installer will be using a pliable paint protection film that doesn’t have to be stretched out excessively to fit on the car surface. Prefer to avoid dust and dirt trapped under your film? Choose an installer that will be doing the installation in a clean environment. What it ultimately boils down to is communication. Know what you want and expect, and talk to your installer before you commit to any kind of paint protection film. At the end of the day, if you cover all your basis, you’re far more likely to get the result you have in mind.